Peter’s Journey Into Self - Handel Behavioral Health
Mental Health Blog

Peter’s Journey Into Self

July 10, 2024

Amy Mauro

Peter Edwards, a pastor and professor of family ministries, has lived with depression since he was young. 

“A lot of my life has been consumed by attempting to overcome fear and depression, or trying to live in the midst of those feelings,” says Peter. 

He recalls standing outside on a warm afternoon in Denver, Colorado, flipping through Jeremiah 7:8, when he realized something radical that changed his perspective of the world.

“In the passage, Jeremiah was talking about the lies you tell yourself and the sacrifices you make because you believe those lies to be true,” says Peter. 

Something clicked in Peter, when he realized that all of those stories he told himself: I’m not good enough, I’m worthless, I can’t do anything to change my circumstances, are lies that he’s convinced himself are true. 

Much like the passage, Peter’s counselor told him to write out some of the stories he told to himself and present them to himself.

Learning how to spot the lies:

Peter works through his depression by spotting his own lies.

“When I write down the lies that I tell myself, I can objectively see and hear the scripts that run through my head and control my reactions to life,” says Peter.

For instance, Peter has always found running and working out to be helpful mental health exercises. They help him create space between his thoughts and return to the present moment. 

“I was sitting in a cafe the other day when I started to think about going to the gym to work out. Before realizing it, my mind was telling me that I was too tired and I didn’t want to do anything,” says Peter.

It took Peter a minute to step back and realize that he wasn’t actually tired, and that if he did exercise he’d feel better. 

Peter was able to spot the lie and separate his depressive feelings from physical feelings. 

“We get to control our attitude and response to life,” he says. “Just because we’ve told ourselves that we’re out of control, that we’ll feel or act a certain way, doesn’t mean that we have to.”

Allowing the self to change:

Peter spent most of his summers as a child alone, while other children were outside playing. 

“Self-isolating became a normal and self-destructive crutch for me,” says Peter.

Over the years, Peter told himself that he was more productive when he was alone. His solitude soon crept up on him. He let his introverted sense of self dominate his entire personality, while his whole sense of self needed friendship and connection. 

“Just like everyone else, I have considerable needs for human contact,” says Peter.

When Peter self-isolates for a day or an entire week he’s faced with darker depressive episodes.

Peter says that we are meant to be adaptable. 

“Our minds are useful when we’re able to think differently today than when we did yesterday; when we’re able to change the narratives that we cling onto, which often keep us stuck repeating the same old destructive patterns in our relationships.”

One of his most formative experiences was taking art electives senior year of high school. 

“I was tired of constantly striving to do more of what I was already good at, and familiar with,” says Peter. “I took a bunch of welding and sculpting classes, where we spent months creating expressions of art, talking about them with classmates, and eventually, breaking them apart at the end of the semester.”

The art classes reminded Peter that we can enjoy something beautiful and meaningful, without it lasting forever.

Looking towards faith:

“One of the reasons I’m a Christian is from the experiential side of Christianity and finding hope and release from fear through worship,” says Peter.

“Worship can be any thoughts that are positive towards God. I’ll often take passages that I find to be positive and affirming, which remind me of who I am and who I am in Christ,” he says.

He recalls a passage from Galatians 5:1, Freedom in Christ:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

“The passage reminds me that God wants us to all be free,” says Peter. “We have the freedom to think our own thoughts and do our own thing. God wants freedom for us. When I get caught up in myself, and let fear take over, I remember that this is not what God has made me for.”

“And when I’m struggling with myself or others, I remember that God doesn’t ever stop loving us,” says Peter.

Peter’s dedication to Christianity has led him to receive his doctorate in New Treatment from the largest seminary of the Wesleyan-Holiness movement. He has pastored for twenty years and currently is Teaching Pastor at a Chapel. He’s also working as Director of the Spiritual Formation program at a graduate school.

Working with a therapist throughout his journey:

Peter has found therapy to be a positive and affirming experience within his journey of life. 

At Handel Behavioral Health our trained therapists and clinicians are here to help you clarify the root of your struggles, develop the tools to meet life’s challenges, and create new insights into your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with understanding and care. 

If you’re ready for a journey of self, start working with one of our therapists in our offices in Franklin, Amherst, West Springfield, Wilbraham, Natick, or online throughout the state of Massachusetts. 

Contact us today at (413) 343-4357 to schedule an appointment!

About The Author

Nettie Hoagland Headshot

Nettie Hoagland is a writer with experience in local news reporting, nonprofit communications, and community development. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. Nettie believes in the healing power of the arts to create connection and community. She is passionate about using writing as an instrument for personal and social growth in the field of mental health. She is currently based in Brooklyn, NY.